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Playoff Buzz: Four teams could clinch Tuesday

Rangers, Ducks, Oilers, Sharks enjoy chance to qualify for Playoffs

by Shawn Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the sprint to the finish line of the 2016-17 regular season and the mad scramble for the remaining 11 spots in the postseason. There are 13 days remaining in the season. If the playoffs were to start today, this is what the matchups would be. Here is all the playoff news for Tuesday:

Clinching Scenarios

Here are the clinching scenarios available for Tuesday:

New York Rangers will clinch a playoff berth:

* If they get at least one point against the Sharks

or

* If the Bruins lose to the Predators in any fashion

Anaheim Ducks will clinch a playoff berth:

* If they get at least one point against the Canucks

or

* If the Kings lose to the Oilers in any fashion

San Jose Sharks will clinch a playoff berth:

* If they defeat the Rangers in regulation or overtime

or

* If they defeat the Rangers in a shootout AND the Kings either lose to the Oilers in any fashion or defeat the Oilers in a shootout

or

* If they get one point against the Rangers AND the Kings lose to the Oilers in any fashion

or

* If the Kings lose to the Oilers in regulation

Edmonton Oilers will clinch a playoff berth:

* If they defeat the Kings in any fashion

 

6:15 p.m.

Enjoy the games!

A busy Tuesday schedule starts in less than an hour as the puck drops on five of the 11 games. 

Four teams have the possibility to clinch a playoff berth: The New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers. Five teams can move playoff positions: The Boston Bruins, Sharks, Ducks and Oilers. Ten games have an impact on the playoff picture, providing teams involved the opportunity to extend leads or move closer to opponents.

Here is a final primer on an important night that will have fans channel surfing for the next six hours or so: 

Nashville Predators at Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET; SN1, SNO, TVAS, NESN, FS-TN, NHL.TV)

The skinny: Predators are third in the Central Division, one point ahead of the hard-charging St. Louis Blues, who are idle. The Bruins are the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning and two points ahead of New York Islanders, who are each idle on Tuesday. The Bruins are one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third in Atlantic Division.

Here's the preview. 

Ottawa Senators at Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET; TCN-PH, RDS2, TSN5, NHL.TV)

The skinny: The Senators are chasing the Montreal Canadiens for first in the Atlantic. They are three points back, but have a game in hand.

Here's the preview.

Detroit Red Wings at Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, FS-D+, NHL.TV)

The Skinny: Carolina, four points behind Boston for the second wild card, has points in 11 straight games (7-0-4). Cam Ward starts in goal in place of Eddie Lack, who was injured Monday. Red Wings, who have made the playoffs in 25 straight seasons, are trying to keep the slim postseason hopes alive. 

Here's the preview. 


Buffalo Sabres at Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

The Skinny: Blue Jackets are second in the Metropolitan Division race, three points behind the Washington Capitals. Columbus has the same amount of points (103) as the Pittsburgh Penguins, but has played one game less.

Here's the preview. 

Winnipeg Jets at New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET; MSG, TSN3, NHL.TV)

The Skinny: The Jets welcome rookie forward Patrik Laine and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien back into the lineup.

Here's the preview. 

Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN4, FS-F, NHL.TV)

The Skinny: Backup Curtis McElhinney gets the start for the Maple Leafs. Toronto is one point ahead of Boston in the race for third in the Atlantic. 

Here's the preview. 

Dallas Stars at Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET; SNE, RDS, FS-SW, NHL.TV) 

The Skinny: Montreal has a three-point lead on the Senators. The battle of the Benn brothers (Jamie and Jordie) provides an interesting subplot.   

Here's the preview. 

Washington Capitals at Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, FS-N, CSN-DC, NHL.TV)

The Skinny: Minnesota had a 15-point lead in the race for home ice in the West on Feb. 28. A month later, the Wild lead Nashville by four points for second place. Washington is looking to maintain its place atop the NHL standings.

Here's the preview. 

Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers (9 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-W, NHL.TV)

The Skinny: With a victory, the Oilers can clinch a playoff victory, which would guarantee their first trip to the postseason since 2006.

Here's the preview.

Anaheim Ducks at Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. ET; SNP, PRIME, NHL.TV) 

The Skinny: The Ducks took over the division lead Sunday. They can clinch a playoff berth Tuesday by earning a point against the Canucks or if the Kings lose in regulation to the Oilers.

Here's the preview. 

New York Rangers at San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, CSN-CA, MSG, NHL.TV)

The Skinny: Rangers are in if they get at least one point against the Sharks or if the Bruins lose in any fashion to Predators. Sharks have four clinching scenarios.

Here's the preview. 

 

5:10 p.m.
Oilers potential berth had early start

The Edmonton Oilers can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006. All they have to do is beat the visiting Los Angeles Kings in any fashion on Tuesday. 

While the wait for this moment has been extraordinarily long, coach Todd McLellan says he thought it was a possibility as early as the first two weeks of the season, as NHL.com writer Tim Campbell reported on Monday.

McLellan said he knew this season would be different when he saw the Oilers' focus after a 6-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres in the third game of the season. The Oilers passed on a scheduled off day and showed up for work looking to get better.

Now, the Oilers are ready to end an 11-year playoff drought, but they still refuse to get ahead of themselves as they prepare for the game Tuesday, as correspondent Derek van Diest notes in his preview.

 

3:30 p.m.
Rask ready to go for Boston

Goaltender Tuukka Rask gets the start for the Boston Bruins on Tuesday in their game against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden. Boston leads the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are off Wednesday, for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third in the Atlantic Division.

Rask was unavailable on Saturday, a 2-1 victory against the New York Islanders, but practiced Monday and was declared fit at the morning skate.

"It's just a matter of getting your rest when you have a chance and everybody's in the same boat, I think," said Rask. "It's not easy for anybody but this is what we play for, the games mean a lot and it's fun. It's going to go down to the wire again and everybody seems to be in a good mood and ready to battle again tonight." 

Rask has lost four straight starts and has allowed 15 goals in those games. Forward David Krejci is a game-time decision with an upper-body injury.

Read Matt Kalman's preview here.

 

1:15 p.m.
Sprint to the finish line

During the course of play Tuesday, the remaining games in the regular season will dwindle to 100. Desperation causes drama, of which there will be plenty during the next 13 days. As a public service to hockey fans, here is a look at 13 compelling storylines that could dominate the final two weeks of the regular season:

[RELATED: Final 100 games have plenty of intrigue]

 

11:50 a.m.
Lack released from hospital

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack has been released from the hospital after sustaining a neck strain at the conclusion of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

The Hurricanes announced scans performed at the hospital came back negative, and Lack was released overnight from UNC Rex Hospital.

Tweet from @NHLCanes: The Hurricanes thank all of the Caniacs and fans from around the league who sent thoughts and prayers in Eddie's direction last night.

Lack's playing status for the rematch Tuesday against the Red Wings is unclear, but the team recalled goalie Alex Nedeljkovic from Florida of the ECHL on an emergency basis.

 

10:45 a.m.
Benn vs Benn

The game between the Dallas Stars and the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre is big for the home team as the Canadiens attempt to maintain their cushion in the Atlantic Division standings.

But, it is also big for the Benn family. Jamie Benn, the Dallas Stars' high-scoring forward, goes against his brother, Jordie Benn, the rugged, stay-at-home defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens.

The siblings played together until the Canadiens traded for Jordie, 29, before the NHL Trade Deadline on March 1. Jordie has blossomed into an important piece for Montreal and will almost certainly experience postseason hockey. Jamie, 27, will be done with his season on April 9 with Dallas having been eliminated from playoff contention.

As LNH.com managing editor Arpon Basu reports, Tuesday will mark the first time ever that the Benns will be on opposite teams in an organized hockey game at any level.

How much they play against each other remains to be seen.

"Probably when Jamie steps on the ice I'll get yelled at to get off," Jordie said after Canadiens practice Monday. "So I'll be on the bench watching him play."

 

10:34 a.m.
Five Questions with Bruce Cassidy

The Boston Bruins are 13-7-0 since Bruce Cassidy took over for the fired Claude Julien as coach.

The Bruins have 84 points and occupy the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the surging Tampa bay Lightning and two points ahead of the New York Islanders. The Bruins are also one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.

What has been the difference in Boston since Cassidy took over? Senior writer Dan Rosen went to the man in the spotlight, Cassidy himself, to find out. The answers are in this week's Five Questions With …

 

9:30 a.m.
Tuesday features 10 games with playoff implications

There are 11 games on the schedule Tuesday; 10 have huge playoff implications. Here is a look at what is at stake in those 10 games:

Nashville Predators at Boston Bruins (7 p.m., ET; SN1, SNO, TVA Sports, NESN, FS-TN; NHL.TV) -- Each team is looking to maintain playoff positioning. The Predators are third in the Central Division, trying to hold off the hard-charging St. Louis Blues, who are idle. The Bruins own the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning and two points ahead of the New York Islanders, each of whom is idle. The Bruins are also one point behind Toronto Maple Leafs for third in Atlantic Division.

Ottawa Senators at Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m., ET; TCN-PH, RDS2, TSN5; NHL.TV) -- The Senators are still chasing the Montreal Canadiens for first in the Atlantic. They are three points back but own a game in hand.

Detroit Red Wings at Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m., ET; FS-CR, FS-D+; NHL.TV) -- A rematch of the game Monday, which Detroit won in overtime. Carolina, four points behind Boston for the second wild card, have points in 11 straight games (7-0-4). The Hurricanes are likely without goalie Eddie Lack, who left the ice on a stretcher at the end of the game Monday.

Buffalo Sabres at Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m., ET; FS-O, MSG-B; NHL.TV) --  The Blue Jackets are trying gain ground on the Washington Capitals, who hold a three-point lead on Columbus in the race for the Presidents' Trophy, the Eastern Conference and the Metropolitan Division. The Sabres played Monday at home.

Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m., ET; TSN4, FS-F; NHL.TV) --  Backup Curtis McElhinney gets the start for the Maple Leafs with Frederik Andersen out with an upper-body injury. Toronto is one point ahead of Boston in the race for the No. 3 spot in the Atlantic. Florida played in Buffalo on Monday.

Dallas Stars at Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m., ET; SNE, RDS, FS-SW; NHL.TV) -- Montreal is hoping to add to its cushion atop the Atlantic; it has a three-point lead on the Senators. Jamie Benn of Dallas against Jordie Benn of Montreal in their first game as foes provides an interesting subplot.     

Washington Capitals at Minnesota Wild (8 p.m., ET; NHLN, FS-N, CSN-DC; NHL.TV) -- On Feb. 28, Minnesota had a 15-point lead in the race for home ice in the West. A month later, the Wild are eight points behind the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks. Washington is looking to maintain its place atop the NHL standings.

Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers (9 p.m., ET; SNW, FS-W; NHL.TV) -- Things are mighty tight in the Pacific Division. The Oilers are tied with the San Jose Sharks for second, two points behind the Anaheim Ducks. The Calgary Flames are one point behind the Oilers, 6-0-1 in their past seven, and the Sharks. Points are at a premium here for Edmonton against a Kings team that has fallen off the pace.

Anaheim Ducks at Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m., ET; SNP, PRIME; NHL.TV) -- The Ducks took over the division lead with a win against the Rangers on Sunday. They would like to keep it for more than 48 hours and a win would guarantee that.

New York Rangers at San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m., ET; SNE, SNO, CSN-CA, MSG, NHL.TV) -- San Jose is no longer in first because it has lost six straight games. The Sharks look to end that slide and try to gain back the ground they have lost in a suddenly wild Pacific Division, with a victory against the New York Rangers, playing for the third time in four days and seemingly locked into its playoff position as the first wild card in the Eastern Conference.

 

7:45 a.m.
Wild Monday tightens playoff races further

Good morning!

The Tampa Bay Lightning highlighted a wild Monday with a comeback for the ages against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was a night when five of the six games had a direct impact on the chase for playoff positioning. Before we take a look at a terrific slate of games Tuesday, here's a recap of what happened in those five games on Monday. .

Tampa Bay Lightning 5, Chicago Blackhawks 4, OT: The Lightning were counted out in the second period after falling into a 4-1 hole. Instead, they scored three goals in 4:13, including two from Jonathan Drouin. Yanni Gourde, a rookie, scored with 35 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Lightning two points. Tampa Bay is one point behind the Boston Bruins in the race for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Detroit Red Wings 4, Carolina Hurricanes 3: The Hurricanes lost on an overtime goal by Andreas Athanasiou, but gained one point for getting the game past regulation. The Hurricanes, who tied the game on a Justin Faulk goal with 52 seconds left in the third period, have points in 11 straight games and are four points behind the Bruins with a game in hand. Carolina goalie Eddie Lack was stretchered off the ice after a collision with Athanasiou on the scoring play in overtime.

Nashville Predators 3, New York Islanders 1: The Predators scored a goal in each period and rookie goaltender Juuse Saros made 24 saves when Nashville maintained its hold on third place in the Central Division, one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues, who were also victorious. The Islanders remain two points behind Boston in race for the second wild card and were passed by the Lightning.

Video: Balanced offense leads Preds past Islanders, 3-1

St. Louis Blues 4, Arizona Coyotes 1: Jaden Schwartz scored two goals and Jake Allen made 21 saves when the Blues moved 11 points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card in the West. St. Louis is two points behind the Calgary Flames for the first wild card and one point behind Nashville for third in the Central.

Calgary Flames 4, Colorado Avalanche 2: Sean Monahan scored a power-play goal 90 seconds into the game and the Flames rolled from there, putting further pressure on their Pacific Division rivals. Calgary, which owns the first wild card in the West, moved to within one point of the Edmonton Oilers and the San Jose Sharks, who are tied for second in the Pacific, and three points behind the first-place Anaheim Ducks. Calgary has played one more game than each of the three teams it is chasing.

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